Ferret Friendly Facts and Advice by Erika Matulich, Ph.D.

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Halloween Safety for Ferrets

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Halloween Can Spell Trouble for a Ferret

© Erika Matulich, Ph.D.

Is Trouble your ferret's middle name? Halloween, with all its curiosities, offers a ferret numerous added opportunities for making mischief—and getting hurt in the process.

Getting ready
Carving a pumpkin? Keep your curious ferrets away from the sharp knives while you are cutting. Once, I had carefully set aside the pulp and seeds from a pumpkin, and Socks weasel-war-danced right into the pile! Of course the pile was cold and wet, so he flew out of the muck and raced away, trailing glop, fibers, and seeds across the carpet.

Gizmo is small enough to squeeze in through the nose-hole of a jack-o-lantern to explore the interior—so she did. Of course, ferrets can never get out they way they got in, and Gizmo needed a bath after she dug her way out through an eyehole! I have since switched to plastic pumpkins.

Be extremely careful if you are using candles, either inside your pumpkin or as other decorations. Ferrets are fascinated by fire, and they will explore, sniff, and knock over candles—endangering themselves and others.

What about ferret costumes? You might get your ferret to wear a hat and cape, but make sure not to cover her entire head. Also, don't put anything on your ferret's fur (such as glitter, luminescent paint, or fake blood) that can be toxic when the ferret licks it off—which she will.

The treats
Candy seems to be a universal part of this October holiday. Many ferrets have a sweet tooth and would love to share in the snacking, but it's best to keep these treats away from your ferret. Treats with high sugar concentrations can cause serious dental problems. One year, my brother carefully broke off the white tips from candy corn and stuck them over Compton's canine teeth to make him look like a vampire! The effect did not last long, and I made sure to brush Compton's teeth afterwards.

Chocolate and black licorice are potentially toxic to ferrets, so keep these treats away from your ferrets. Chewing-gum can cause life-threatening intestinal blockages. Flower once stole a Jolly Rancher hard candy from a bowl, removed the wrapper, and licked it until she was satisfied. Then Slinky accidentally sat on the sticky mess. I caught him racing frantically around the house trying to get the evil object unstuck from his behind! Your ferrets will be perfectly happy with their normal ferret treats for Halloween.

Halloween can be a dangerous time for pets because some people play cruel tricks on animals. Keep your pets locked up inside so as not to expose them to any potential dangers. Inside your house, keep your ferrets in their cages. If you are hosting a costume party, guests may unwittingly step on your ferret or drop dangerous treats on the floor. If you are constantly opening the door to hand out treats, your ferret can easily escape while you are busy looking at costumes.

One of my friends has an albino ferret named Reepy who has been trained to sit on his owner's shoulder. Each Halloween, Reepy is dressed in a black hat, with a cape covering his safety harness and leash. Safely restrained, Reepy helps answer the door. He makes a wonderful Halloween greeter!

Here's hoping that you and your fuzzballs have a happy and safe Halloween, and that your ferrets don't play too many tricks on you or steal too many treats!